Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Holmes, Edward

HOLMES, EDWARD (1797–1859), writer on music, born in 1797, was a schoolfellow and great friend of Keats at Charles Clarke's school at Enfield. With his schoolmaster's son, Charles Cowden Clarke [q. v.], he was intimate through life. When young, Holmes was very handsome. He was apprenticed to Robert B. Seeley, the bookseller, but subsequently chose the profession of music, and studied under Vincent Novello, who generously made him an inmate of his house for several years. He thus came to know Charles Lamb and most of the men of letters of the day. Always a great admirer of Mozart, he and Novello raised a subscription for Mozart's widow, and went to Germany to present it to her in 1828. Holmes wrote an account of the trip. He taught the pianoforte in schools, and wrote the musical criticisms for the ‘Atlas’ from its commencement in 1829, and later for the ‘Spectator;’ he also contributed occasional articles to ‘Fraser's Magazine,’ and many papers to the ‘Musical Times.’ Holmes died 4 Sept. 1859. Late in life he married the sister of his friend Egerton Webb, but left no issue.

His works are: 1. ‘A Ramble among the Musicians of Germany, giving some account of the Operas of Munich, Dresden, Berlin …,’ written for the proprietors of the ‘Atlas,’ London, 1828, 8vo (it reached a third edition). 2. ‘The Life of Mozart,’ London, 1845, 8vo, based on Nissen's biography. 3. ‘Analytical and Thematic Catalogue of Mozart's Pianoforte Works,’ 1852. 4. ‘Critical Essay on the Requiem of Mozart,’ prefixed to the music in Novello's edition, 1854, 8vo. 5. ‘Life of Purcell,’ for Novello's edition of that composer's sacred music. Among his papers in the ‘Musical Times’ are a series on the English glee and madrigal composers (vol. iv.), analyses of the masses of Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart; addenda to the ‘Life of Mozart’ (viii.); and the first of a series on the ‘Cultivation of Domestic Music,’ which he did not live to complete. Of his songs, ‘My Jenny’ was the most popular. Holmes's arrangement of Mozart's ‘Te Deum’ was published in 1844.

[Private information; Musical Times, ix. 125; C. and M. Cowden Clarke's Recollections of Writers, passim; Letters of C. Lamb, ed. Ainger, ii. 120, 197; Grove's Dictionary of Music, i. 744; Mendel's Musikalisches Conversations-Lexikon, v. 274.]

L. M. M.